There is clearly a genetic and an environmental aspect to taste preference. Which aspect dominates for what tastes is a subject of scientific research.
For instance, TAS2R38 gene gives the taste sensation of bitterness and it makes a protein that interlocks with a chemical called PTC (phenylthiocarbamide), which is similar to the ones found in cruciferous vegetables like cabbages and brussel sprouts. So difference in their ability to taste or not taste PTC explains why some hate and some prefer these vegetables!There are different versions of TAS2R38 gene and which version you carry influences the level of perception of bitterness. People with two copies of PAV type of this gene display maximal perception of bitterness, whereas people with two copies of AVI type of this gene display minimal perception of bitterness. People with one copy of each type, PAV/AVI corresponds to moderate perception of bitterness.
Interesting story behind the “PTC gene”A chemist named Arthur Fox was working with phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) in the lab. His colleague complained about a horrible smelling odor, while Fox couldn’t smell anything! This is when Fox set out to discover why some people could smell and taste PTC while others could not. This incident allowed Fox to connect the dots between people’s genetic material and their ability to sense PTC.
Being able to taste bitterness enables a person to either completely avoid these plants or at least moderate how much is being consumed. So this suggests that people who have maximal perception of bitterness had the evolutionary advantage (by avoiding toxins) over those who have minimal perception. However, not all toxins are bad for everyone. Some toxins only act on some species while benefiting others. So the ability to consume bitter tasting food which is non-toxic but has nutritional and medicinal value was useful during human evolution.
Want to know if you have the “the brussel sprouts gene” Xcode’s nutrigenetics test can tell you what versions of the TAS2R38 gene you have in your DNA. You can also learn about how your genes may influence other traits, including your risk for certain diseases. You can write to us at email@example.com.